By Dr .Lisa Agarwal, BSc, BHMS
Migraine is a chronic neurological disorder. It is characterized by recurrent moderate to severe headaches, nausea and other altered bodily perceptions.
Migraine headaches are mostly unilateral affecting one side of the head, pulsating type of headaches lasting from 4-72 hours.
Migraines are more common in women than in men, linked strongly to inheritance too.
The cause is unknown but the most widely acclaimed theory explains a drop in level of serotonin which in turn cause the dilatation and inflammation of the blood vessels causing the pulsating pain.
Fluctuating hormone levels may also play a role, as females are more affected, and incidence decreases during pregnancy.
Trigger factors of Migraine
A trigger factor or a precipitant of migraine are any factors which either on exposure or withdrawal leads to the development of a migraine headache episode. These factors are behavioural, environmental, dietary, hormonal or chemical. Hunger, fatigue, stress, sunlight improper aeration , pregnancy, puberty, oral contraceptives, MSG, nuts, chocolates, red wine, dairy products, fermented foods etc are few of the trigger factors .
Signs and Symptoms of Migraine
The symptoms experienced vary from patients to patients and also there is a wide array of symptoms experienced before, during and after the headache episode. These symptoms can be phased out into 3 types depending on their period of occurrence.
Prodrome: symptoms occurring hours or days before the onset of pain episode. These include irritability, mood swings, pica, altered hunger and bowel movements, stiff muscles, sensitivity to noise and smell.
Aura: The pre-pain phase occurring about few minutes to an hour before the actual pain begins. It is like a warning sign, a transient neurological phenomenon with visual, sensory and motors affects.
Visual effects include altered field of vision, flickering, patchy vision, partial blindness.
Sensory effects include pin –needle sensation, numbness, vertigo .
Motor effects indicate hemiplegic migraine and are usually rare.
Aura can rarely occur without a following headache and vice versa.
Pain phase/ Headache phase: migraine headaches are mainly unilateral, throbbing, recurrent, lasting from 2-72 hrs, aggravated by physical activities. Sometime headaches occur on the top or back of the head, associated commonly by neck pains.
The common associated symptoms with the headache are nausea, vomiting (usually relieves), photophobia (sensitivity to light), phonophobia( sensitivity to sound), sensitivity to smell, mental confusion, dullness, fatigue, vertigo, sweating, neck stiffness, increased urination, pallor.
Postdrome: even after the pain episode passes over the effects persist, commonly as an unfresh feeling with fatigue, depression and malaise.
In many cases a careful and conscious avoidance of the trigger factors can prevent the pain episodes. Common efforts include adequate sleep and rest, proper dietary routine to avoid being on empty stomach, stress management, avoiding foods that trigger migraines, avoid sunlight and work and stay in a proper ventilated environment.
Therapeutic prevention is required in individuals who suffer from headaches more than two days a week and when the attacks are not easily controlled. Prevention aims at reducing the frequency and intensity of the attacks hence reducing the medicinal intake required to counter each attack. These include medication, lifestyle alterations, nutritional supplements and surgery.
Effective treatment of migraine involves avoiding the trigger factors, managing the acute episode of pain and preventing the attacks.
Homeopathic perspective of managing migraine
According to homeopathic philosophy medicines are selected depending on the patient’s miasmatic background and his individual traits called the constitution. These factors include the inheritance and the person’s individual sensitivities and susceptibilities which make them vulnerable to the disease and develop in them the tendency to develop these headaches.
This explains how homeopathy is capable of preventing as well as treating the migraine attacks. By working upon the patient holistically the sensitivity to the trigger factors is reduced which in turn reduces the occurrence of the attacks. And also the selected medicine not just controls the headache but all the associated pre- dromal and post- dromal symptoms, as homeopathy aims to treat not just the presenting illness but the entire state of unease and ill health.
During the period of pain the various acute acting medicines help to alleviate the pain.
Hence not only the occurrence but the pain are equally managed and without any harmful medications which might ultimately lead to the so called medication overuse headache, the daily headaches.
Individual approach of homeopathy deals with every patient of migraine differently not just with pain relief but to work at the underlying body tendency and sensitivity, hence strengthening the body against the trigger factors, eventually leading to progressive decrease in both the frequency and intensity of the headaches.
Constitutional medicines are selected based on the individual patient’s traits after a detailed case taking.
Commonly used medicines to help with the pain episodes are: natrum mur, belladonna, sepia, spigelia, bryonia, ipecac, sanguinaria, coffea, ignatia, gelsimium.
Homeopathic medicines selected on the basis of the patient’s symptom totality and his constitutional totality are able to establish a permanent cure for migraine.
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